Imagine if you had all the power in the world

IBM Watson

In 2011 IBM’s Watson an Artificial Intelligence unit famously won a 100 game set of jeopardy against human world champions. It was really the first time an A.I. had beaten humans in a multidimensional association test. Intelligence through inference, cognitive computing and natural language rather than mere brute force calculation and probability sets. That said, there was plenty of brute force behind Watson. Here’s some of stats from how Watson was configured at that time in 2011:

  • It had 3000 Power7 processors.
  • A cluster of 90 IBM Power 750 servers.
  • It could read the equivalent of 1 million books per second.
  • It had downloaded the entire content of Wikipedia.
  • It was not connected to the internet for the competition.
  • It was the size of a small conference room. (above)

But this was all 5 years ago. Now its the size of 3 pizza boxes.

3 Pizza Boxes stacked

Imagine if us mere mortals and startup founders could access such computing power. Well, we can, Watson is already in the cloud.

Anyone can access it’s incredible power through the Watson Developer cloud. It even includes 30 day free trials – 30 days with the worlds most powerful A.I. – I can remember when an internet cafe used to charge $20 an hour for dial up to surf sites like GeoCities and Altavista. You can check out all the ways it’s being used here. You’ll see there are incredible opportunities for all manner of business, data usage and cognitive assistance.

This opportunity simply can’t be understated. Yes, IBM benefit from the work you do (it makes Watson smarter) and it will cost money, but heck, you’re getting access to the most powerful thing of it’s kind in the world.

It turns out that while some companies continue to get stronger and more ensconced in our lives – think GAFA, there’s still a move towards democratisation if we care enough to dig around.

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The rate of change

Yesterday I was reading through the business and tech sections of the huffington post. There were so many new stories on new business ideas, new technology, upcoming research, recently funded startups, and product launches from tech giants that I had to stop and take a breath. I realised that there is no possible way to keep up with everything happening in the business world. It was a bit deflating to read it all. I felt out of touch.

With exponential change happening we’ve got to stop trying to keep up. It’s a waste of time. Instead we need to remember no one is responsible for all this innovation, and the only way to be part of any of it, is by focusing on the tiny segment which is right in front of us.

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The internet lives in Dog years

The internet is a bit like dogs. Life moves a bit more quickly. Which is why I still laugh whenever I hear that the latest hit website is going to be the dominate force forever in that that category. As Facebook is currently being touted to be, then I love to remind the pundit just a little bit about the history of the internet.

Yahoo was search. it was game set and match, then came Google.

Myspace was social networking – it had won, apparently…

Blackbery had stitched up the hand held internet enabled smart phone market…

Geocites was the way we’d all have our own websites… then came blogging

All of which remind us how things can change ever so quickly on the intenert. This wont change, because the barriers to entry are so low. $5 an hour in India for a coder, $9.99 for a domain, $Free internet access and a wifi enabled laptop for a few hundred dollars and you’re an internet entrepreneur. Unlike TV and tradtional media outlets, anyone can play. Creativity wins, not financial resources.

The insight is that the forums people hang out in will always change, like disco’s and pubs (the web is social) – it’s also kinda Punk. Our job isn’t to predict which is the next big thing, but to learn how to use them quickly so that we can participate in a timely manner.

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